Archive for the ‘audio’ Category

source hp.com

source hp.com

i’m still having several issues with this laptop, will it ever end? at least it’s not the nvidia proprietary driver again. so here are some details:
used kernel: 2.6.34-gentoo-r6
  • graphics causes problems with ‘sata – ahci’ mode
  • sound sometimes crashes the system (module load/unload)
  • wlan sometimes crashes the system (module load/unload)
  • acpi, not all keys report acpi events


used driver: nvidia-drivers-256.53 (nvidia proprietary)
so far most things i need are working, which includes:
  • 2d acceleration (xvid extension using mplayer)
  • 3d acceleration
  • console (alt+ctrl+f1) still works after pm-suspend’s resume cycle (not when no X was running prior pm-suspend)
  • resume will resume X without issues


  • external monitor setups as vga/hdmi
  • compositing: i still have compositing disabled as the system is much more responsive without it. still it would work well.
  • a new problem is the issue with the nvidia module and the sata ahci mode:
Sep 25 18:24:56 ebooK kernel: [ 2989.757123] ata1: exception Emask 0x10 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x10000 action 0xf
Sep 25 18:24:56 ebooK kernel: [ 2989.757134] ata1: SError: { PHYRdyChg }
Sep 25 18:24:56 ebooK kernel: [ 2989.757146] ata1: hard resetting link
Sep 25 18:24:57 ebooK kernel: [ 2990.480057] ata1: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
Sep 25 18:24:57 ebooK kernel: [ 2990.482352] ata1.00: ACPI cmd ef/10:03:00:00:00:a0 (SET FEATURES) filtered out
Sep 25 18:24:57 ebooK kernel: [ 2990.485490] ata1.00: ACPI cmd ef/10:03:00:00:00:a0 (SET FEATURES) filtered out
Sep 25 18:24:57 ebooK kernel: [ 2990.485935] ata1.00: configured for UDMA/133
Sep 25 18:24:57 ebooK kernel: [ 2990.485945] ata1: EH complete
Sep 25 18:24:57 ebooK kernel: [ 2990.486235] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Write cache: enabled, read cache: enabled, doesn’t support DPO or FUA
[1] seems to confirm this problem. when i disable ahci (and use ide mode) in the bios this error message is gone. currently i don’t know how DPO or FUA or this whole error influences my stability. however: when my system crashes i have a very high chance of file loss, this means: all kde settings are deleted, chromium restores to factory defaults and similar problems.


00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)
the soundsystem crashes the system when snd_* modules are reloaded using ‘rmmod’ or ‘modprobe -r’. a trace can be found at [2].
  • this crash happens even if there was no pm-suspend cycle yet
  • it does not matter if sound was played (mp3 or film), it crashes anyway
-> using /etc/init.d/alsasound restart does NOT remove loaded modules and it does NOT shut down programs using the soundcard prior to removing the modules. but i’m using a script which does so.
i’ve written a mail to alsa-devel@alsa-project.org and i’m still waiting for feedback. maybe someone can help me.


03:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300
the wireless lan system crashes if the iwlagn module is loaded and then unloaded several times (‘rmmod iwlagn’ and ‘modprobe iwlagn’ several times). a stack trace can be found at [4]. i’ve filed a bug report at [5].


my old 2.6.34 configuration reported acpi evnts for volume down/ volume up, fn+f3, fn+f4 (maybe), fn+f8,  fn+f9 and fn+f10 as well as for pwr button. with the fc13 kernel configuration i’ve experienced that some if not all acpi events were not sent. still have to find out why this happens.
if i find out why that happens, i’ll post some news on that.


[5] http://bugzilla.intellinuxwireless.org

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windows xp changes volumes no matter what the user is doing. in linux this is often not possible because things are done differently (read: “wrong”). however, this guide will help you to fix it or at least tells you why it is done wrong. i’m experimenting with my ‘hp elitebook 8530w‘ using gentoo linux. in linux the volume keys are most often bound to X, as: XF86AudioRaiseVolume and XF86AudioLowerVolume, see this example ~/.Xmodmap (not mine)

keycode 176 = XF86AudioRaiseVolume
keycode 174 = XF86AudioLowerVolume

this is a bad design because things don’t work well. a different concept was issued by my thinkpad t43: mute/increase/decrease of volume was done using a hardware mixer. this means alsa wasn’t used at all.

this posting addresses alternative approaches on how to use the volume up/down/mute buttons in a global X independent way.

common linux audio setup

currently linux features two desktop audio systems:

  • alsa
  • pulseaudio
  • (jack audio connection kit)

most often a weird combination of both simultaneously, with confusing results. point is: changing volumes.

volume settings issues

volume levels can be changed for both: alsa and pulseaudio. the difference is that if you change the ‘master’ volume of alsa, you also change it for all pulseaudio clients. while changing an individual volume in a ‘pulseaudio client’ will only change the volume for that specific client.

most of the time volume changes are redirected to alsa, for example ‘kmix‘ does catch events like XF86AudioRaiseVolume and changes the volume of the ‘selected master channel’. one can select ‘master’ or ‘pcm’ as ‘master channel’ (others as well, depends on the audio setup). using this architecture has pitfalls, as you CAN NOT change volumes, when:

  • playing fullscreen-games (using opengl or sdl)
  • embedded adobe flash animations (skips fullscreen on XF86AudioRaiseVolume)
  • X is NOT running (or has crashed)
  • system load is too high (X input handling is delayed)
  • kmix is not running (or kde is not running yet)

xorg input handling

the linux kernel adds input devices in ‘/dev/input/‘. xorg will use only devices configured in ‘/etc/X11/xorg.conf’. Let’s see ‘/var/log/Xorg.0.log‘:

  • /dev/input/mice (mouse)
  • /dev/input/event3 (keyboard)
    (II) config/hal: Adding input device AT Translated Set 2 keyboard
    (**) AT Translated Set 2 keyboard: always reports core events
    (**) AT Translated Set 2 keyboard: Device: “/dev/input/event3
    (II) AT Translated Set 2 keyboard: Found keys
    (II) AT Translated Set 2 keyboard: Configuring as keyboard
    (II) XINPUT: Adding extended input device “AT Translated Set 2 keyboard” (type: KEYBOARD)
  • /dev/input/event7 (HP multimedia keys)
    (II) config/hal: Adding input device HP WMI hotkeys
    (**) HP WMI hotkeys: always reports core events
    (**) HP WMI hotkeys: Device: “/dev/input/event7
    (II) HP WMI hotkeys: Found keys
    (II) HP WMI hotkeys: Configuring as keyboard
    (II) XINPUT: Adding extended input device “HP WMI hotkeys” (type: KEYBOARD)

one can get a complete list by typing “xinput list” as a normal user in a xterm. the default setup of X will use ‘hal’ to manage hardware.

monitoring for acpi keys

let’s see if one receives any of the acpi key-events using acpi_listen. i pressfn+f8‘, which is a special key with a battery symbol on it.

xev reports (run as normal user):

KeyPress event, serial 45, synthetic NO, window 0x3200001, root 0x27a, subw 0x0, time 26309626, (51,-20), root:(55,930), state 0x0, keycode 244 (keysym 0x1008ff93, XF86Battery), same_screen YES, XLookupString gives 0 bytes: XmbLookupString gives 0 bytes: XFilterEvent returns: False KeyRelease event, serial 45, synthetic NO, window 0x3200001, root 0x27a, subw 0x0, time 26309686, (51,-20), root:(55,930), state 0x0, keycode 244 (keysym 0x1008ff93, XF86Battery), same_screen YES, XLookupString gives 0 bytes: XFilterEvent returns: False

acpi_listen reports (run as root or normal user):
button/battery BAT 00000080 00000000
repeating this experiment with a different keycombination as ‘fn+f1’ resulted only in a xev event but NO acpi event was reported by acpi_listen.
this means we can NOT just use any ‘fn+whatever’ combination as a acpi shortcut. we are probably limited to what is provided by the hp acpi firmware.
to sum up: this means some keys or key combinations provide an acpi event while also a normal key event (which is delivered to X and monitored using xev). acpi is independent of X so if the multimedia keys (volume up/down/mute) produce acpi events it is good. if not we still can do what we want but with a little more effort as it will require to monitor /dev/input/eventX for volume keys.

syncing hardware-mute with software-mute

my ‘hp elitebook 8530w’ does mute the soundcard directly (no operating system operation needed). this is helpful since instant muting sometimes is VERY IMPORTANT. however, if no kmix is running, then the XF86AudioMute isn’t processed and alsa still thinks the devices is unmuted (with an ‘out of the box setup’).

the truth is that the audio-signal flow can be interrupted serially, in two ways:

  • first by alsa, which does software mute
  • but the ‘hp elitebook 8630w’ also does hardware muting

if both are muted, using alsamixer to unmute won’t restore sound since the hardware mute still is set. this can be very confusing.

my old thinkpad t43 was able to mask the hardware mute (on an acpi basis, see ibm-acpi [2]), in order to make ‘software’ mute the only option.

  • this is nice as it is more intuitive
  • this is bad as all the issues which this posting talks about were very problematic. most users would therefore NOT mask the hardware mixer mute as this could mean ‘not to be able to quickly mute’ in certain situations.

looking at the hp-wmi.c code

the handling of acpi can either be done using the generic acpi subsystem or with some special care as for example ibm-acpi [2]. since i can’t use the ibm-acpi with my hp laptop, let’s have a look what that hp-wmi thing does.

/usr/src/linux/drivers/platform/x86/hp-wmi.c‘ shows that this code is meant to:

  • rfkill wireless lan
  • rfkill bluetooth dongle
  • wwan? (whatever that is)
  • register a sysfs interface

on hp-wmi module load, ‘/sys/devices/platform/hp-wmi‘ is created. this is the interface used by ‘net-wireless/rfkill‘.

# rfkill list

7: hci0: Bluetooth

Soft blocked: no

Hard blocked: no

8: phy2: Wireless LAN

Soft blocked: no

Hard blocked: no

15: hp-wifi: Wireless LAN

Soft blocked: no

Hard blocked: no

16: hp-bluetooth: Bluetooth

Soft blocked: no

Hard blocked: no

this interface can be used to disable the devices. so this is not what we want. maybe the hp can’t mask the hardware mute at all.

but how is the mute button connected?

since i’m using a laptop, the mute button might just be a hard wired toggle for the soundcards mute state. let’s check that using an external multimedia usb keyboard. lsusb:

Bus 008 Device 003: ID 04b3:3003 IBM Corp. Rapid Access III Keyboard

using the mute button there doesn’t change anything until i start ‘kmix’. so my first assumption might be correct.
using ‘acpi-listen’ as root:
button/mute MUTE 00000080 00000000
but looking at /etc/acpi there does not seem to be any script caring about acpi event. looking at /var/log/messages:
tail -f /var/log/messages
Jul  5 16:24:21 ebooK logger: ACPI event unhandled: button/mute MUTE 00000080 00000000
so it’s probably a hard wired button toggle.
my previous laptop, ‘thinkpad t43’, did handle the volume up/down and mute directly (similar of how the mute button is implemented on the elitebook 8530w). i quote from the ibm-acpi implementation documentation [2]:


0x1017 0x16 MUTE Mute internal mixer. This key is always handled by the firmware, even when unmasked.

so this might be handled by the hp-wmi firmware as well.

/etc/acpi/default.sh script (adapted)

# /etc/acpi/default.sh
# Default acpi script that takes an entry for all actions

set $*


log_unhandled() {
        logger "ACPI event unhandled: $*"

case "$group" in
                case "$action" in
                        /etc/acpi/brightness.sh up

                        /etc/acpi/brightness.sh down
                case "$action" in
                        /etc/acpi/volume.sh down
                        /etc/acpi/volume.sh up
                        /etc/acpi/volume.sh mute

                                #/sbin/init 0

                        # if your laptop doesnt turn on/off the display via hardware
                        # switch and instead just generates an acpi event, you can force
                        # X to turn off the display via dpms.  note you will have to run
                        # 'xhost +local:0' so root can access the X DISPLAY.
                        #  xset dpms force off
                        #  ;;

                        *)  log_unhandled $* ;;

                case "$value" in
                        # Add code here to handle when the system is unplugged
                        # (maybe change cpu scaling to powersave mode).  For
                        # multicore systems, make sure you set powersave mode
                        # for each core!
                        #  cpufreq-set -g powersave
                        #  ;;

                        # Add code here to handle when the system is plugged in
                        # (maybe change cpu scaling to performance mode).  For
                        # multicore systems, make sure you set performance mode
                        # for each core!
                        #  cpufreq-set -g performance
                        #  ;;

                        *)  log_unhandled $* ;;

        *)  log_unhandled $* ;;


# script to change the volume via acpi calls by joachim schiele 2010-06-30

if [ "$1"x == "up"x ]; then
        volume=$(amixer get Master | grep "Front Left: Playback" | awk '{print $4}')
        Y=$(echo  "$volume+1" | bc)
        amixer set Master $Y
        P=$(echo "$Y/30*100" | bc -l)

if [ "$1"x == "down"x ]; then
        volume=$(amixer get Master | grep "Front Left: Playback" | awk '{print $4}')
        Y=$(echo  "$volume-1" | bc)
        amixer set Master $Y
        P=$(echo "$Y/30*100" | bc -l)

if [ "$1"x == "mute"x ]; then
        $(amixer get Master | grep "Front Left: Playback" | grep '\[off\]')
        volume=$(amixer get Master | grep "Front Left: Playback" | awk '{print $4}')
        Y=$(echo  "$volume")
        amixer set Master $Y
        P=$(echo "$Y/30*100" | bc -l)

        echo "state=$state"

        if [ $state -ne 1 ]; then
                amixer set Master unmute
                amixer set Master mute

changing volumes not using kmix (using acpi)

see my last posting [1] on how to use acpi to change the display brightness. this time we are going to change the volume level using acpi. volume script

# cat /etc/acpi/events/volume

this script ignores stereo balance (left speaker louder than right speaker). but it works great for my laptop.
# /etc/acpi/default.sh
one can find out the group and action with (run as root):
and then create an event:
button/volumedown VOLDN 00000080 00000000
button/volumedown VOLDN 00000080 00000000
button/volumeup VOLUP 00000080 00000000
button/volumeup VOLUP 00000080 00000000

now extract the needed information: ‘button/volumedown’ and ‘button/volumeup‘. put these into the /etc/acpi/default.sh script as i already did above. you can experiment with the script using the command line:

./default.sh button/volumedown


changing volumes not using kmix (using /dev/input/eventX)

my laptop produces an acpi event (even for an externally attached usb keyboads) but i guess most computers won’t. this is why i’ve adapted a c program and a script [3] to parse /dev/input/eventX.

using this program is very easy, just follow the steps in the README.

# ./mediakeys-controller /dev/input/event3

calling script for volume down

calling script for volume down

calling script for volume up

calling script to toggle mute state

works perfectly here (but since the acpi stuff works also i’m using acpi). the reason is that [3] does not support hotplugging of new devices and it will only open one device at program start. this needs to be fixed but i think of it more as a prove of concept code.

fixing the X-bindings

there are still the bindings for the volume keys in X, we need to remove bindings for XF86AudioRaiseVolume, XF86AudioLowerVolume and XF86AudioMute. i simply removed the kmix key bindings for these keys. doing so works but one would have to remove keybindings from many applications.

a far better approach is to remove the keymappings so that no such events are produced, done using: keycodes via ‘~/.Xmodmap’.

let’s find the key bindings first:

# xmodmap -diplay :0.0 -pke | grep -i vol

keycode 122 = XF86AudioLowerVolume NoSymbol XF86AudioLowerVolume

keycode 123 = XF86AudioRaiseVolume NoSymbol XF86AudioRaiseVolume

now let’s kill those bindings with empty assignments:

xmodmap -e “keycode 122 =”

xmodmap -e “keycode 123 =”

do the same for:

keycode 121 = XF86AudioMute NoSymbol XF86AudioMute

to make these changes permanent, we need to create a ~/.Xmodmap, mine looks like this:

# cat ~/.Xmodmap

keycode 121 =

keycode 122 =

keycode 123 =

installing an OSD

x11-libs/xosd is a very nice OSD. one can indicate volume change. but it somehow does look buggy from time to time:

  • sometimes using osd_cat won’t show any osd (only X restart makes it work again)
  • osd_cat does not work very good with mplayer
  • it is not very fast and it does not look nice

i would like to use the osd of kmix. as kmix already changes volumes (see the sliders when using alsamixer from the console) one would simply have to write an option in kmix settings to enable the osd also on passive changes (where kmix didn’t change the volume). i’ve not done this so far.


[1] https://invalidmagic.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/no-more-crashes-after-resuming-from-pm-suspend/

[2] http://ibm-acpi.sourceforge.net/README

[3] http://github.com/qknight/mediakeys-controller


update: fixed the /etc/acpi/default.sh script /etc/acpi/events/volume is now /etc/acpi/volume.sh for mute as well

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source hp.com

source hp.com

some updates about my laptop. i removed lvm and my ‘luks partition’ which seems to work much better now as i don’t have this massive io-wait issues anymore.

  • i’ve tried several schedulers: ‘noop anticipatory deadline cfq‘ but none did the trick. it seems the issue is somewhere else. i’ve made some benchmarks but i did not find the file where i stored them ;P
  • compiling ogre 3d 1.7rc1 crashed my computer a few days ago, maybe 2gb ram are not enough and/or my linux installation is somehow broken or a driver isn’t done right – i did not find out what causes that yet
  • compiling big packages in general often results in massive swapping which will shut down firefox (with probably 20tabs) soon and sometimes it kills xdm as well – does not happen too often
  • but i still use xfs and i did not have any further data loss although, coming to the next problem
  • my laptop crashes on ever 4th resume cycle and i have to ‘force power off’ with 5seconds pressing the pwr button this is because of nvidia.ko, i’m currently using: x11-drivers/nvidia-drivers-190.53-r1
  • the quality of the nvidia proprietary driver is currently very low and ….. yes you know the story
  • i tried to enable ‘vt’ for experimenting with virtual machines when i suddenly realized that all the issues with the nvidia.ko proprietary driver NOT starting X was caused by enabling this option. after i disabled it (in the bios) X resumed to work. i did not know that this was the cause for X not to start up. also the error logs did not show anything interesting?! strange, isn’t it?
  • since i’m nearly done with the ogre3d stuff i was doing i’m looking forward removing 3d support and experimenting with kms and the open source nouveau driver comming with kernel 2.6.33+
  • all other hardware-components seem to be working pretty well, i can’t complain about anything expect the bad graphic card drivers – i think that is the only proprietary module i’m currently using
  • and i’m not using any kde pim application anymore since they suffer from very low quality (did i mention this already?) for instance they crash, they duplicate my addressbooks, on updates .kde dir (which stores all configs) sometimes is renamed to .kde4 (might be gentoo specific), xfs crashed all my ‘open’ files in .kde about 2 times now. so i’m using psi, thunderbird and firefox which seems to be working.
  • i’m currently on kde 4.3 but i will try 4.4 soon
  • my windows xp migration stopped working, not sure why – probably because my installation of grub. i should probably try to install a more recent windows version since this xp installation requires to set my sata controller into ide compatibility mode (which might be bad?)
  • i’m now using smartd on all my computers, really a nice tool!
  • my sound support sometimes is broken and i can’t use skype for telephoning, also the composition of mics in this laptop somehow does not work well with alsa as i can’t really predict which alsamixer settings makes the mic work and which not. most often it is basically random clicking until something works – welcome to linux audio. also flash sometimes does not work with sound when i use different players to play audio

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linux love, gentoo love!

recently i updated my gentoo box. the computer is a c2c processor with a fast nvidia graphics card. but what is cool about that “you” wonder?

gentoo linux logo (copied from commons.wikipedia.org)


actually the new portage kde 4.3.3 seems to be very stable (read usable) for me. the proprietary graphics driver nvidia.ko is doing great! i use suspend2ram about 10 times a day. i leave the pc in suspend2ram for days and it only needs 3W of power! suspend2ram needs 2-3 secs for going down and about 7 secs to come back up! plasma is now at a point that i see it is going to be useful. the expose clone of the kde folks is very very nice to use. dragon player seems to get stable so i can use it with the smb:// kio plugin to watch films from my server. firefox64 selfcompiled now uses a 64bit flash plugin. and finally nearly all applications i’m using regularly work like a charm, which include:

  • firefox (even watching flash films, fullscreen still stutters but then usually once can do: mplayer -fs /tmp/FlashAVE3 (name is somehow similar)
  • very fast 3d support (nvidia i love you!) in kde and in fullscreen games as well as normal 2d acceleration for movies
  • that said, the new kde desktop effects are the best user experience i’ve had for years now (i didn’t test vista/win7) but mac os x
  • sound seems to be working now. to be honest i don’t understand why (didn’t test skype tough)
  • the game ‘spring’ runs with 280fps on my computer (that is a peak value of course) but then with medium details on a map with 5on5 (10 kaik ais) it still seems to be no problem to get decent 60fps!

to conclude: i’m very happy especially since this suspend2ram thing now works. both pcs (i just cloned the gentoo image from the first pc) did work with the same settings altough both use different hardware.

that is really really cool!

currently i’m looking forward getting:

  • into kdevelop 3.9.95
  • akonadi: using a backend !google for pim (i don’t have a google calender nor do i use google mail)
  • getting rid of my laptop with this awful radeon r300 card, i’ll probably buy a “hp elite” with a nvidia card and a 6mb L2 cache (c2c cpu)

to all gentoo readers out there: i love this distribution so much since portage is doing well and the update (although taking long) was a great success.

UPDATE: i forgot to feature the graphics card i use: it is a ‘Gigabyte GeForce 9600 GT Passiv 512MB for 83,90 euro’ (20 nov 2009) which is as silent as you can imagine: 0 dB

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